The Economist reports:
THE incumbent is the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), rules in coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), and is more popular than opposition challengers from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The only worry is the fate of the FDP. Polls say it may get less than 5% of the votes, the threshold to enter parliament. If the CDU loses its coalition partner, the SPD and Greens combined could be stronger. The CDU’s supporters understand this dilemma and tactically “lend” their votes to the FDP to keep it in parliament. So the FDP surges at the last minute—but entirely at the expense of the CDU. By the narrowest of margins, the centre-left parties then win, and form the new government.
This describes the situation in Lower Saxony, a state in northern Germany that held an election on January 20th. A well-liked CDU premier, David McAllister, and his FDP partners lost power to Stephan Weil, the SPD’s candidate, and his Green allies. The margin decided just before midnight, in what a moist-eyed Mr McAllister called a “heart-stopping finale”, was a single seat (69-68). “We are all very sad,” said Angela Merkel, the chancellor and CDU national leader, who campaigned hard for Mr McAllister (they are pictured above).
Sounds like NZ somewhat!
But it is Mrs Merkel who must make the subtlest recalculations. So far, she has governed and campaigned with a style that German boffins call “asymmetric demobilisation,” meaning that she has tactically stolen issues from the centre-left opposition by enacting them pre-emptively or signalling that she might. The latest example is a minimum wage, which the left demands and to which she (but not the FDP) seems open. This may make supporters of the SPD and Greens stay at home on polling day, she believes.
The risk is that CDU voters stay at home as well. But she may be showing ideological flexibility for another reason. As the FDP becomes a wild card, and the coalition arithmetic of an SPD-Green majority is so uncertain, the odds rise of an alliance between the CDU and either the Greens or the SPD. She knows it can be done, having spent her first term in a “grand coalition” with the SPD (and Mr Steinbrück as finance minister). “One thing is for sure,” says Uwe Alschner of Poliethics.com, a strategy consultancy. “Germany’s political system will shift left.”
I think a CDU/Green Government in Germany could well occur.